History illuminates the human condition. As a field of study, history provides the context with which to define one's relationship with the world, and a structure within which to study other disciplines. In portraying continuity and change, history offers a basis for understanding one's culture, one's community, and oneself. Without historical perspective, learning is incomplete.

History also provides a strong foundation for a broad variety of careers. The study of history prepares a student for the dynamics of business, law, government, or nonprofit careers. Historical knowledge provides details of past experience with which to test the feasibility of new solutions. It enhances the ability to recognize patterns in voluminous data; it supports valid comparisons and connections. These are skills valued by employers not just in the field itself, but in any career endeavor.

  • Tim Ashe

    A Commitment to Service

    Tim Ashe’s career in politics began about a week before his graduation in 1999 when he got a call from the office of then Vermont U.S. Congressman Bernie Sanders looking for staff support. He served as a “jack of all trades” for Sanders, went on to serve in the Burlington City Council for four years, and was elected to the Vermont Senate in 2008. He also earned his master’s degree at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “I really received a classic humanities education,” he says. “Trying to improve the lives of others originated and matured while I was at UVM.”

Considering Career Paths: Practical or Applied?

In considering your career, one of the first decisions to make is whether you wish to practice history directly, or whether you wish to apply the knowledge and skills you have learned in the study of history to any one of many fields. The distinctions between such choices are highly personal: you might gain more career satisfaction from, say, being a feature writer for an international affairs monthly than from teaching high school history — or the reverse.

Typical organizations that emphasize history include archives, communications media, consulting and freelance assignments, historical associations and societies, historical projects, libraries, museums, publishing, research institutions, religious and philanthropic organizations, as well as teaching.

Typical organizations that apply historians' skills include management, advertising, archival and record-keeping services, banking & investment services, government service, insurance, law, market research, newspaper, radio & television journalism, paralegal services, public relations, staff training, and travel & tourism.

The study of history prepares students for the dynamics of business, government, law or non-profit careers. Historical scholarship trains the mind to think on many levels, to deal with partial evidence and ambiguity. Historical knowledge provides details of past experience with which to test the feasibility of new solutions. It enhances the ability to recognize patterns in voluminous data; it supports valid comparisons and connections. In short, a background in history is ideal preparation for a fulfilling and thoughtful career in just about any profession.